Ron Paul: Allow Ships To Defend Themselves Against Pirates

Source: Campaign for Liberty
Recorded on: April 12, 2009

Today the American people heard the good news that the American ship captain who was being held hostage by the pirates in the Indian Ocean off the shores of Somalia was released and this is very good that his life was spared. But it does raise some questions on exactly what’s going on in that region and if we’re to solve this problem, we ought to try to understand exactly what is happening.

This is not an isolated incident. As a matter of fact, the piracy has been going on for a good many years, more than a decade, and it mainly started over in Indonesia and Malaysia, but now it’s moved over into the Indian Ocean and near the vital oil routes into the Persian Gulf.

But we, as Americans, should know exactly our involvement in Somalia. Most people do, at least, I hope most people do remember the foolish attempt when Clinton went into Somalia in the early 1990s and a fiasco resulted. We got involved in a civil war there and supported one faction and several of our helicopters went down and a dozen or so of our people were killed, but we left.

But we didn’t get uninvolved in the region. Under George Bush, we actually stayed involved in a very deliberate fashion by hiring out the Ethiopians to go in and act as our proxy army to go in and invade and try to set up a government friendly toward us. That hasn’t been successful either and there is civil strife. There’s a civil war going on and this is ripe for those who want to radicalize the Islamic religion and take advantage of it, and they have. So there’s civil strife over there.

So this incident is hardly called blowback because they have been hitting a lot of ships around the world and other countries. This is probably the first American ship that was taken hostage by the pirates, but it is an unintended consequence of our policies over there and I think it’s important that we realize this.

This could really expand the militarism of the region and that is what I’m fearful of, because it could end up us spending a lot, lot more money without really fully understanding how a problem like this should be taken cared of.

First off, it sort of reminds me of what the conditions were like before 9/11. Before 9/11, we knew about individuals taking over aircraft and yet the federal government was in charge and they said, “Don’t have guns on the airplanes and don’t resist,” and lo and behold, those who wanted to do harm to us took advantage of those circumstances and the way they were able to carry out the attacks on 9/11.

But similar circumstances exist now. The ships, especially those on the American flag, are told they can’t carry guns and even the owners of the vessels tell them “don’t resist” because their cargo is too precious. But think about it, think about a couple little motor boats running up to these large vessels with 4 or 5 pirates and they can take over these vessels and then hold ships hostage. There’s dozens and dozens of ships being held hostage right now.

But I, quite frankly, think that the responsibility ought to fall on these liners. I don’t think just because people go into these dangerous waters, that our army and navy and air force and everything has to follow these individuals. Just think about the signs that we have seen at the airports on occassion. Such and such country is a dangerous place to go. Don’t go. If you do go, go at your own risk.

In a way, that should apply here. I think when these vessels and these large companies get involved in these, and getting into these so-called war zones, they should assume some responsibility, but we shouldn’t put prohibitions in their way. We shouldn’t say that they can’t carry guns. Because quite frankly, I think the companies are capable of dealing with this. But it also raises the subject of the principle of the marque and reprisal.

The marque and reprisal principle was used in our early years, lo and behold, for pirates. That means that they’re under international agreement and understanding and a letter coming from our US Congress, those ships do have the right under international law to defend themselves. I think that every potential pirate knew that this would be the case, they would have second thoughts because they could probably be blown out of the water rather easily if those were the conditions.

But overall, I think it raises questions about our foreign policy and once again, I think foreign intervention leads to all kinds of problems. Right now, I believe this could lead to very excessive more military spending. Already we’ve seen our new president, President Obama, increasing the DOD budget for next year by 9 percent. He has also come up now with another request of $83 billion to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, so things are not slowing down, and now with this one individual needing rescue and this problem having been around for a long time, my guess is, and my prediction is that it is going to be used to call forth many, many more dollars to be spent in the military-industrial complex without once thinking about how our foreign policy should be revised.


  • Joyce

    I’m in free fall! This sounds like political correctness gone totally mad! CAPTAINS refuse to sail unless there are armaments aboard. YOU can change this insanity!

  • Joyce

    This is an insult to all mariners! Allow pirateers to leasurely climb aboard. Rob, abuse and take hostages. Kill them at their leisure. All crew is expected to surrender courtesly. This has to be STOPPED TODAY. Every man-mariner MUST refuse to sail without amaments for God’s Sake. Talk about basic rights! What in hell fire is happening here?

  • Mr. T

    A tax to cruise off shore, over 500 miles off shore where no country has jurisdiction, yeah that makes sense.

    I will join Sal for around $200K a year AND provide my own defensive measures!!
    1 person that can shoot OK could hold off five teens trying to rope up the side of a ship. A pellet gun would keep them from climbing the rope!!

  • Sal Boccia

    I would like to be one of the security people on these ships for protection. Does anyone know where I can inquire about this further?

  • Geronimo Apache Indian

    Stupid Idea. Why don’t they pay a tax to the countries waters they use and that country takes care of the problem through the countries coast guard. Sounds a lot easier then making every cargo ship into a destroyer. PEACE

  • R. S. Ahlgren

    The shipping companies should pool their monies and hire the Blackwater Security Force to protect their properties and crews on the open seas in that region. The pirates will end up at the bottom of the sea and the problem will be solved without USA taxpayer monies being further wasted.

  • DC Palmer

    It seems very odd to me that the shipping companies don’t cooperate and form a convoy system where groups of ships go together and form a common defense. No rocket science here, just some timing and cooperation.